Tales from the Bonfire - Those Human Feelings

by Dan Gingold | B-39878 | Brooklyn, New York

I met Bryan in Florida on my very first day skydiving. Bryan had driven down from New York City to practice wingsuiting. His girlfriend, Katherine, came with him to go through the AFF program and was in my first-jump course. All through ground school and training that day, my nervousness rose. I rode to altitude quaking. When I landed, I felt such an incredible elation. Afterward, drinking a beer with Katherine and Bryan, I tried to describe what I had felt. I remember Bryan, with a huge smile on his face, listening knowingly. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Pierre Tomasini

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by Pierre Tomasini | B-41392 | Tempe, Arizona

One evening in France in 1982, a national-news broadcast featured a story on a skydiving school’s open house. I immediately perceived that there was no need to be an athlete to jump: Gravity works for everybody. It was a big revelation for my teenaged mind. I told my parents that I wanted to jump, and fortunately they did not make it difficult. more »

Gearing Up - September 2015

EdScott

The vision of a national skydiving museum that would collect, archive and showcase skydiving’s unique history began with William H. “Bill” Ottley. Bill served three separate terms on USPA’s board from the mid-1960s through the late-1970s, and then served as USPA’s executive director from 1978-1992. In 1972, Ottley filed corporate documents and had what was then called the American Museum of Sport Parachuting and Air Safety (changed in 2005 to the National Skydiving Museum) incorporated as a charitable organization. From the start, the museum—which has its own, separate board of trustees—has been distinct from USPA. more »

Profile - Donald “Ski” Chmielewski | D-1182

by Brian Giboney

PROFILE20158Donald “Ski” Chmielewski, D-1182, made his first skydive in Zephyrhills, Florida, in 1963 and is still active in the sport today. His love affair with skydiving—and with his wife, Donna, whom he’s been married to and jumping with for 47 years—is as strong as ever. The Chmielewskis have skydived together for decades, becoming involved in Parachutists Over Phorty Society (POPS) events and, later, Skydivers Over Sixty (SOS) and Jumpers Over Seventy (JOS) events. The pair is currently organizing the JOS formation skydiving world record attempts scheduled for November. Go, Chmielewskis, go! more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Danele Elliott

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by Danele Elliott | A-71548 | Killeen, Texas

The last message Ethan ever saw from me read, “I’ll call you tomorrow. I love you.” I did call the next day, but he didn’t answer. I had no idea that in a few hours his brother would be calling to tell me that my husband of almost eight years had passed away in his sleep. more »

Gearing Up - August 2015

EdScott

Over the past decade, USPA has joined all other general aviation associations in fighting recurring proposals to fund the nation’s air traffic control system—a government-provided service—with user fees instead of the current system of federal fuel taxes. The reason the general aviation community doesn’t want a change is simple: The current system works. GA users, including jump operators, pay for the system through federal taxes on aviation fuel, currently 21.8 cents per gallon for jet fuel and 19.3 cents per gallon for avgas. Users who fly more, and presumably use the ATC system more, pay more. A Cessna operator who flies 10 loads on a Saturday will pay $12 at the pump in federal tax on avgas. A Twin Otter operator who flies 20 loads will pay about $100 in federal tax on jet fuel. A fuel tax is easy to calculate, easy to pay and easy to collect. Conversely, a user fee almost certainly would involve an invoicing and payment process that requires a whole new bureaucracy. more »

Profile - Zach Lewis | D-21616

by Brian Giboney

PROFILE20157Photographer Zach Lewis took to the skies in 1997 and naturally gravitated toward camera flying. Attracted to the precision and engineering of formation skydiving, he became a successful camera flyer for nationally competitive FS teams in his native Texas. In addition to contributing many remarkable photos to Parachutist , he authors a popular photo-interview series in Blue Skies Magazine that combines his good-humored inquisitiveness with his photography talent. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - J.T. Valente

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by J.T. Valente | D-26340 | Mount Holly, New Jersey

When I was 9 years old, I witnessed my first skydive. That was when I knew my dream of flying could become reality. Nine years later, I made plans to jump with a friend who worked for a skydiver. We toasted with a few drinks on the eve of our big event. The next morning he chickened out, and I was left without a connection to the sky. more »

Gearing Up - July 2015

EdScott

One way USPA engages in its mission of “supporting safe skydiving and those who enjoy it” is through a very active government relations effort aimed at removing obstacles to drop zone establishment and reducing government burden on established DZs. Usually these efforts take the form of advocating against restrictive regulations (whether local, state or federal) or challenging arbitrary decisions by government employees that unfairly try to deny skydivers the use of airports and airspace. But occasionally overzealous tax agents see busy DZs and think that government deserves a place at the banquet table, and USPA has to act to keep them away. more »

Profile - Olav Zipser | D-11733

by Brian Giboney

PROFILE20156Olav Zipser, D-11733, spearheaded the freefly revolution of the early 1990s. Zipser founded the Space Games freefly competition and has earned numerous championships and records, as well as an Emmy award for his work on ESPN’s “X-Games.” He has traveled extensively for decades teaching jumpers all over the world his art of freeflying, and his students say he has a Zen-like presence in the sky. more »